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Aloys Wilhelm Schreiber

born: 1761
died: 1841
country: Germany

Aloys Schreiber, born in Bühl in Baden, was destined for a life in the Church, but influenced by the works of the Enlightenment (Gessner, Uz, Claudius, Bürger, Klopstock) became very critical of conservative Catholicism. He became a teacher of aesthetics in Baden-Baden and moved on to Mainz. He at first supported the ideals of the French Revolution but from 1793 turned against left-wing politics. His revered models were Rousseau and Goethe, and in the last decade of the eighteenth century he published novellas, tales and poetic works including a volume of Gedichte. (The work published in 1817/18 which Schubert probably knew was a set of three volumes of collected poetry.) Schreiber made his greatest reputation as a writer specialising in travel books (he was an authority on the Rhineland and Baden). He eventually became a professor at Heidelberg University (where he engaged in polemical battles with the Romantics, supporting the Rationalists) before settling in Karlsruhe with the title of Hofrat. His life exemplified the typical cycle of youthful liberalism returning to conservative ideals in older age.

Schreiber was one of those poets whose work influenced Schubert for a very definite and limited period (another example is Rückert where six settings all date from 1822/23). All the settings of this poet date from 1818, a period when the composer was comparatively unprolific but when his song texts reflect a search for a philosophical centre, ranging from the pantheism of Friedrich von Schlegel and Mayrhofer’s homespun philosophy, to the Christian piety of the Schreiber texts.

from notes by Graham Johnson 2000

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